This week we are doing a Christmas in July sale in the store. That got me (Debi) to thinking about ornaments and finishing techniques. Nordic Needle just got some exquisite bell pull sets, and I have some questions, so indulge me as I talk about bell pulls.
First, are they “bell pulls” or “bellpulls”? Ryan and I struggle with this every time we get a new design or hardware to put on our website as people spell it both ways. My Office Word spell checker seems to like both spellings. The controversy continues because Wikipedia and SpellWeb say it should be two words. Yet, Merriam-Webster On-line says it is one word. I guess you can argue it either way so we will put it on the web whichever way it is spelled when the new product gets to us.
Hopefully, my next question has an answer! Why are they called bell pulls? The original bell pull was a cord or (fancy textile often with a tassel) connected to a bell or some sort of system that rang a bell. When I was in Norway the churches had bell pulls to ring the steeple bell. However, the bell pulls we are most familiar with were used in the home. When the cord was pulled, a bell rang somewhere in the house and a butler or maid appeared. Some of these systems were quite elaborate with a multitude of bells. The tone of a bell was associated with a particular room, for example the dining room or parlor. The servant had to distinguish the sounds among the bells to know where to go. Often the bells were all in one location, such as the kitchen, where the servants gathered and worked.
If you lived in America and were wealthy in the mid-1800’s, then your home probably had one of these fancy bell pull systems. Mary Todd Lincoln was instrumental in setting up the first system in the White House. It appears she purchased a majority of her pulls from New York rather than stitching them herself. This also tells us that bell pulls indicated the wealth of the homeowner. The pull could be a simple cord or an elaborate woven or stitched tapestry.
Today, instead of a bell pull, there are electronic call systems in use at work and home. I can remember my district manager at Southwestern Bell Telephone buzzing my phone when he wanted to dictate a letter. (That seems like a long, long time ago….oh my, it was over 30 years.) Thinking back more than 40 years, I was homebound for a while as a teenager and I had a little bell I could ring when I needed something and mom would magically appear. I suppose today people use their cell phones and “push-to-talk”! So, innovation has made the original bell pull obsolete. However, now they are wonderful decorator items. Let’s see how we can finish them using bell pull hardware.
TYPES OF HARDWARE
Some hardware only has a top piece. Tip: If your design doesn’t hang straight down, you could add a little bit of weight with a tassel (tassel maker, 380-591-0201) or bell (5571BR).
Here is the Viking Voyage Bellpull Kit (K2167).
Often there is a matching top and bottom piece of hardware.
Here is a piece from the Norweave and Bellpulls book (5240).
If one loop is larger than the other one, the larger loop should be used on the bottom of the piece.
Here is the Norway Charm Bell Pull (0437).
There can be a top and bottom piece but they are different. This is a bell pull I got from Sweden.
One of the new brass hardware sets is similar to the hardware on this bell pull; the Cast Brass Bellpull Hardware – Pair 4.625″ (703-975-7120).
WHAT SIZE DO I NEED?
Most of the time, the description will give the width and height of the entire piece of hardware AND the mounting width. The mounting width is what you need to know to be sure your finished bell pull will fit on the hardware. Often bell pull sizes are referenced in centimeters (cm) with the usual sizes ranging from 10 cm to 30 cm. Here are the approximate conversions:
- 10 cm = 4″
- 13 cm = 5″
- 15 cm = 6″
- 18 cm = 7″
- 20 cm = 8″
- 23 cm = 9″
- 25 cm = 10″
- 28 cm = 11″
- 30 cm = 12″
It is a personal preference whether you want the edges of your piece to fit snugly in the mounting area or to have some space on each edge. My recommendation is to decide on your hardware after you finish stitching but before you completely finish the edges of your project. This way you can make sure that your finished piece will fit on the hardware. I tried to buy hardware AFTER I finished my edges and it was difficult to find something that fit and looked right.
It is important to find your hardware before you finish your piece because some hardware requires your piece to be finished in a particular way. For example:
Some pieces have to be finished after they are put on the rod because the piece is solid, such as Chrome Bellpull Hardware – Single 10″ (703-975-7150).
Some pieces may look solid, but the ends actually unscrew so you can slide the piece on, such as Brass Rod with Chain Bellpull Hardware – 10 cm (4″) (708-942-0010).
Several types mount behind the hardware, and they may be removable like Cast Brass Bellpull Hardware – Pair 5.5″ (703-975-7135) or solid like Cast Brass Bellpull Hardware – Pair 3.5″ (703-975-7131).
Most of the hardware we carry has an opening in the rod so that a finished sleeve can be threaded onto the rod, for example Flat Satin Brass Bellpull Hardware with Heart – 8 cm (3.14″) (710-942-0008).
Here are some examples of how the backs have been finished.
The Sweden Charm Bellpull (0438) is stitched on banding, which means the only finishing is to turn under the edges and whip stitch them down.
Mini brass hardware (7381-06) works great for smaller bell pulls.
The Norweave bell pull had the edges folded inward and a piece of fabric hemmed over the top.
This bell pull is the Lizzie Kate’s Less = More series of charts: Whine Less Breathe More (105-362-0084), Fear Less Hope More (105-362-0085), Talk Less Say More (105-362-0086), Hate Less Love More (105-362-0087).
The back was finished by adding a backing fabric to create a tube. Then the tube is pressed so the design is centered on the front. The ends are turned under and whip stitched. The hardware used for this bell pull is the Pewter Heart Scroll (714-942-0012).
TIP: If your hardware has been soldered be sure that the soldered side goes to the back when you mount your stitching. Here is an example of the hardware used on the Norweave bell pull now only available in black (706-942-0020).
There are some great tutorials on the web to step you through the process of finishing a bell pull. The Twisted Stitcher steps you through how to back your project with fabric. Dani shows us how to create a layered bell pull.
One way to avoid all this work is to stitch on banding and finish it like Roz’ Christmas Bell Pull Ornament (990-590-0102).
Hopefully, this gives you some tips on how to finish your bell pulls. Check out our great selection, including the really lovely cast hardware we just got in!
We hope these "helpful hints" make your stitching easier and more enjoyable!
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“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com. A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”